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Olympic village has a happy day for once

October 9th, 2009 · 7 Comments

It was a lovely day on the deck of the Parcel 2 building at the Olympic village today.  The media were there getting shots of the city from the 12th floor on a beautiful, sunny day, and of the village itself, as workers raked dirt on the ground or crawled around outside decks doing finishing work.

The occasion was the official turnover of Parcel 2 — the buildings on the southwest corner, which includes the glass corner market building and the chartreuse-panelled social housing building that forms the other three sides of the square — with all of the players in attendance: the Maleks of Millennium Developments who built it, the mayor, the city staff, Bob Rennie, Olympics officials, a couple of Olympic athletes, and of course us.

The long-suffering Malek brothers got to hear praise about their accomplishments from the mayor;  Gregor Robertson went on at length about what a green project the village is. Likely a welcome change for them after a year’s worth of news conferences about what a financial disaster the project was.

There’s clearly still some work to do (the last building won’t be handed over until Dec. 4), but things have definitely come along even since I was last on the site three weeks ago with a group of students. When you’re high up, you can see all the roof gardens on top of every building. It’s kind of amazing to look out and see playgrounds and swings and garden plots and cedar mulch and lawns spread out across the roofs of the whole village, gardens in the air. There’s also a park being sculpted in just west of the building that seems to have appeared overnight almost, a lovely little green buffer with a stream winding through it.

The units themselves, at this point, look kind of utilitarian, with all of the nice kitchen appliances safely sealed off behind some kind of pressed-straw board. They’re furnished with fairly indestructible looking dark leather couches and wooden coffee tables, a la rented Whistler condo, and two beds in every room layered with a dark-blue duvet for our visiting athletes.

Still, every unit looks out over some form of interesting, lush landscaping around and then the city itself. You know, that place that the Olympics are supposed to be selling to the world. Or that’s supposed to sell these units and get the Maleks and us off the hook. As Mayor Gregor said to Bob Rennie: “No pressure … but sell, sell, sell.”

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